Dental Health

Protecting your pet’s teeth and gums is essential to their wellbeing. It prevents chronic diseases and pain for both your pet and your pocket!

Your pet’s dental health – did you know?

  • Protecting your dog’s dental health is as critical as protecting it from heartworm disease. An estimated 78% of dogs over 3 years have some form of periodontal disease.
  • ‘Doggie breath’ is not normal. Bad breath is often a first symptom of dental disease.
  • Two-thirds of your pet’s tooth is not visible. Dental disease exists under the gum-line so you often can’t see it if it’s there.
  • Dog’s generally have 42 permanent teeth – 10 more than humans.
  • Puppies are born toothless and their teeth only start growing when they are 6-8 weeks old.

Dental health for pets and dental disease

Pets have baby teeth – just like you!

Puppies start out with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth; kittens have 26 deciduous teeth. By 6 months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced by healthy permanent teeth: 42 for dogs and 30 for cats. We’re here to help you keep them healthy!

What is dental disease?

Pet dental care is more important than you think!

Recent research shows that up to 85% of animals aged 3 years and over are now affected by dental disease, with small breeds of dogs and cats showing more vulnerability.

As with human teeth, dental disease is caused when residual food, bacteria and calcium deposits form plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. Failure to address these problems may result in bacteria carried into your pet’s bloodstream, causing severe, long-term oral health issues – related to the heart, liver, kidney and joints – that are sometimes fatal.

Dental care can be expensive, so it’s best to look after your pet’s teeth and prevent disease from the outset.

Dental health in dogs

How can I tell if my dog has a dental disease?

Watch for any of the following signs that might indicate a problem in your dog’s mouth:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, inflamed or bleeding gums
  • A build-up of plaque and stains on teeth
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Lethargy or reluctance to play with toys
  • ‘Chattering’ of the teeth when trying to eat
  • Mouth hanging open, with tongue protruding
  • Dropping food when eating
  • Loose or eroded teeth
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Tumours in the gums

Symptoms of dental diseases in dogs

If your dog suffers from any of these symptoms, dental disease may be present:

  • Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum that can spread to the rest of the body and may result in tooth loss. Signs are bad breath, tooth pain, loose teeth, sneezing and nasal discharge.
  • Gingivitis is gum inflammation caused mainly by accumulation of plaque, tartar and disease-producing bacteria above and below the gum line. Signs include bleeding, red, swollen gums and bad breath. Regular teeth cleanings can reverse Gingivitis.
  • Halitosis (bad breath) can be caused by gum infection or bacteria growing from food particles caught between the teeth. Regular teeth cleanings can manage this as well.
  • Swollen gums develop when tartar builds up and food gets stuck between the teeth.
  • Mouth tumours appear as lumps in the gums. Some are malignant and must be surgically removed.
  • Salivary cysts look like large blisters filled with fluid and positioned under the tongue, but can also develop near the corners of the jaw. They need drainage, and if the saliva gland is damaged, it must be removed.

Dental health in cats

How can I tell if my cat has a dental disease?

Watch for any of the following signs that could indicate problems in your cat’s mouth:

  • Dark red line along the gums
  • Development of lesions, inflammation, swelling and bleeding on gums
  • Ulcers on gums or tongue
  • Loose or eroded teeth
  • Yellowish-brown tartar on teeth
  • Difficulty chewing food, a poor appetite or ‘chattering’ of the teeth when trying to eat
  • Lethargy or a reluctance to play with toys
  • Failing to groom
  • Lip smacking
  • Pus
  • Bad breath
  • Increased drooling
  • Excessive pawing at the mouth area
  • Rejection of hard or crunchy foods in preference for tinned or soft food
  • Using one side of the mouth and dropping food while chewing

Symptoms of dental disease in cats

If your cat suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned below, dental disease may be present:

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums mainly seen in older cats, starting as a dark red line bordering on the teeth. If left untreated, gums may become sore and ulceration can occur. This may be also a sign of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or some other infection.
Periodontitis can result if gingivitis invades the tooth socket, where the tooth becomes loose and an abscess forms.
Stomatitis is where the mouth lining inflames as a result from a foreign body in the mouth, a viral disease or dental problems.
Rodent ulcer is a slowly enlarging swelling or sore on the upper lip.
Salivary cyst results as a cyst forming under the tongue when the salivary glands or ducts that carry saliva to the mouth become blocked.
Mouth ulcers are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease and appear as ulcers on a cat’s tongue and gums.

Prevention is better than cure

Your pet’s dental care is an important part of their health.

Prevention is achieved by paying close attention to your pet’s diet; regular access to special dental treats, chews, and dental water additives; regular brushing with pet toothpaste and toothbrushes and rinsing with special gels.

Prevention is always better than cure. Talk to your local pet expert at the Pet Health Check to see what simple things you and your family can do to ensure that your pet stays as healthy as possible.

Although cats have a greater aversion to having their teeth cleaned than dogs, many dogs and cats can be trained to enjoy having their teeth brushed, especially if started when they’re young.

Although bones are a popular treat that you may be using for dental care, they can cause problems such as broken teeth and gut obstructions.

The good news

Dental disease progresses in stages – if caught early, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible.

Is your cat or dog showing signs of gum disease or teeth problems? Visit your nearest participating Just For Pets store for your free 6 point pet health check today.